Take the Christmas Pledge

Skipping Black Friday is a custom for me.  I prefer to use the day to think about upcoming Advent and to take the Christmas Pledge.

I wrote this down decades ago, and I can’t find the source online.  It has served me well.

The Christmas Pledge

  1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts.
  2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways that presents.
  3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family.
  4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas.
  5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends.

Amen to that.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Twinems

Almighty God, to you belongs the sea, for you made it, and the dry land shaped by your hand.  We hold the riches of the universe only in trust.

Make us honest stewards of your creation, careful of the good earth you have given us, compassionate and just in sharing its bounty with the whole human family.

Thank you for your generosity to us.  Please give us the graces necessary to remain grateful to you every day.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Go Before the Lord With Unanswered Prayers

My Thanksgiving Eve tradition is to a) cook as much as possible beforehand and b) spend 30 minutes going before the Lord with my unanswered prayers.

This year that includes a prayer for decent weather for a seven-hour one-way drive. The prayers also include well-worn requests for healing for people I love. The Lord knows best, but He has also encouraged us to be as relentless as the old widow in asking for things.

This period of prayer sets us up for mindful and joyful Thanksgiving. In her book, “Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough,” Kay Warren wrote, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to pray God in all things.”

This experience is one of the unanswered prayers I will offer as I ask for the grace to make it become a daily experience.

What Do You Love Most About Them?

Preparing our hearts for Thanksgiving often takes place as we prepare our various recipes for the meal. As I type, the pie crust is thawing.

Still, an easy way to bring more joy and peace to your Thanksgiving dinner table is spending a few minutes to think about the people who will be sitting there.

Take just a few minutes to write down what you love most about them. Some even suggest writing a notecard to sit at each person’s plate so you can share your appreciation.

Being mindful about the people who gather round the table gives you extra peace and joy even if all goes hectic in the kitchen on Thursday.

Giving Thanks for Answered Prayer

As you received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in fate, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:6-7

Keeping a gratitude journal … it’s a recommendation from everyone from Oprah to Judy in my small group. If you haven’t kept one, it’s a great time to start.

A gratitude journal focuses on the blessings in your life, re-centering you on God’s gifts. Looking back through the pages, we may find numerous blessings that we’ve forgotten about in the rush of the world. This journal would be helpful in doing another great practice of mindful Christianity today: Spending 30 minutes thanking God for our answered prayers.

So pick up your journal or your list of blessings written earlier this week. Take some time to walk (or sit) with the Lord today to let him know that you’ve noticed how He has blessed you.

What Can Jesus the King Teach Us About Thanksgiving?

Today is Christ the King, the last Sunday of the Christian year. It’s also the Sunday before Thanksgiving, time for scrambling in many homes as the preparations for Thanksgiving dinner begin: Getting the turkey out of the freezer. Rearranging the refrigerator so the turkey fits to defrost. Making spiced nuts for appetizers and an ice cream pie as one of the desserts. Writing a check to the food bank to help feed the homeless and hungry.

In all this, we seek to feel the presence of Jesus. What would he tell us about thanksgiving? One way to find out is to meditate on moments when he expressing gratitude. Here are a few:

Matthew 11:25: Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

John 11:41: They took away the stone (from Lazarus’ tomb.) And Jesus lifted his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.”

Matthew 15:36: Jesus took the seven loaves and the fish, and, having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples.

Luke 22:17: And he took the cup, and, when he had given thanks, he said, “Take this, and divide among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

Jesus is not only God; he is the finest example of a grateful human being.

Giving Thanks One Item at a Time

Thanksgiving is less than a week away, and the pressure is mounting. Grocery lists, grocery lines and grocery confusion. “Why do we make this every year when no one really likes it?”

What do you really like? To have a mindful Thanksgiving, let’s take 15 minutes to work on a list that’s more pleasant to construct than your Turkey Day oven timeline. List the things that you are thankful to have.

This year, I followed the advice of “Simple” blogger, author and podcaster Tsh Oxenreider. We put our gratitude list on a pumpkin. Mine is a fairly messy Sharpie-filled pumpkin, and Tsh’s was so fancy in nice block print in a circle around the pumpkin. A pumpkin, a journal, a simple piece of paper. Whichever way, that’s what Thanksgiving is all about, Charlie Brown.

The Craft of Mindfulness

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … and it’s the week before Thanksgiving. I prefer to decorate for Thanksgiving, one last great shout-out to autumn and its abundance.

Today, mindfully decorate for Thanksgiving, even picking out a craft or two if you haven’t any decorations. I love the ideas about crafting expressed by Jean Van’t Hul in her book, “The Artful Year: Celebrating the Seasons and Holidays with Family Arts and Crafts.”

Adapting Jean’s thoughts on the zen of crafting, here’s the craft of mindfulness:

  • Use materials and decorative items you love. Take the time to enjoy them.
  • Take your time. Don’t race through this. Slow down and enjoy the process.
  • See the beauty in imperfection. If you make a mistake in a craft, it’s OK. And stop to look at the things your children made to enjoy the memories.

Send Thanksgiving Cards

This month’s mail is filled with unwanted offers, tons of catalogs and bills. Why not use the mail to bring some joy to the lives of people who brought us happiness?

Think of who made your life better this year: doctors, pastors, small group leaders, authors, teachers and others. Grab some Thanksgiving cards when you’re at the grocery store, and send off a note of thanks. It’s way to spread grace.

A Mindful Thanksgiving Starts With “Thank You”

Talk in Christian circles about growing in godliness often focuses on spiritual disciplines like Bible study, prayer, worship and so on. Gratitude is on the list, but not at the top of it.

That’s a mistake, Dr. Michael Zigarelli found in a study of 5,000 Christians reported in his book, “Cultivating Christian Character.” Gratitude is a parent virtue seen in what he calls “high-virtue Christians,” the people who are most consistently Christ-like.

These people have a consistent grateful disposition. Four out of five high-virtue Christians remember throughout the day how God has blessed them. Only two out of five average-virtue Christians say they do this. The most grateful often were African-Americans.

What drives gratitude is perspective. Remaining mindful moment-to-moment of what God has given you. High-virtue Christians are perpetually aware of their bountiful life, even during its most challenging periods. This habit of awareness transports them to the next level of gratitude and character.

Today, let’s start our mindful Thanksgiving by thanking the people we love the most. Think about why you appreciate them and tell them so. It’s a push toward a wonderful gratitude habit.